SP vs Tupelo

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2011

Big rival on tap for SP homecoming with Tupelo

By Angie Ledbetter

In a pivotal district match, South Panola will entertain long time rival Tupelo in homecoming tonight at 7 p.m.

Both are 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the district and tied for second place with Horn Lake.
Tupelo has had a tumultuous district season so far, losing to Columbus 24-23, defeating Grenada 27-21 and last week downing Southaven Tupelo 28-27.

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As one of the biggest division rivalries in the district, the Tigers have held strong with their victories over the Golden Wave. Last year they defeated the Wave 62-6 and in 2009 they shut them out 42-0. It was the 2008 year that fans still remember. The game came down to the last minute and the Tigers edged out Tupelo 14-13. In 2007 the Tigers won 22-9.

“We’ve had their number since I’ve been here,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue. “There have been some tough games and one I remember is 2008. They had Chad Bumphis, who is at Mississippi State now, and a hot shot quarterback plus other guys and we played them over there.

“Last year we played on the Cellular South game and got them pretty good.”

The Golden Wave have been hot and cold this season but have pulled their act together lately with the return of star running back, junior Ashton Shumpert.

“They started the year off without their running back who was banged up but got him back three weeks ago,” Pogue said. “I think it was the first division game and they lost to Columbus 24-23. He was still a little rusty but he still had a good game. But the last two weeks he’s come true to form. Since that time they’ve beaten Grenada and Southaven.”

Shumpert has rushed for 444 yards on 96 carries scoring four touchdowns.

“He’s a highly thought of guy in the state who’s having a great season and they have some confidence now. They’ve won both games late so you can tell he’s really added spark to their team. They’re utilizing him in a manner that he’s the focal point so they’ve really improved lately.”

Tupelo is expected to be without the services of starting quarterback Luke Hobson who received a possible season-ending injury in the Columbus game.

Replacing Hobson is junior quarterback Thomas Harris who has completed 11 of 16 passes for 153 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“They’ve won two games straight with him as their quarterback so they haven’t missed a beat.”
As far as their defense, Pogue says they’re a typical defensive team.

“The defense is just a real tough, scrappy bunch that’s well coached and don’t really give up a lot of big plays,” Pogue said. “They don’t have any guys on there that really truly stand out but they really play as a connected unit about as good as you you’ll find. They’re a bunch of kids that just fight hard, scratch and claw to find a way to win. That’s what they did against Grenada and Southaven.”

Pogue expects to get Tupelo’s best shot.

“They kept hanging on to make a few plays to give themselves a chance,” he said. “The defense knows if they can keep hanging on and get some stops, then Shumpert can bail them out and they’ve been playing like that.”

With the losses in the Tiger’s record, Pogue knows people will think they are a pushover team.

“It’s opened the door even more for some people to believe but I’m really proud of our team at Columbus,” he said. “I think Columbus thought they’d just roll in there and take us. We got off to a good start and I’m proud of the way we responded. I just want to carry that over into tonight and gain some positive momentum as we keep going.”

Pogue thought South Panola played its best offensive game last week.

“We see signs that we’re about to turn that corner,” he said. “What you want to do is carry that game over and build off of it while continuing to gain momentum and confidence. I think that’s the biggest thing our offense needs right now.”

Pogue reiterated how proud he is of the team for not letting anything negative affect them for not having the type season they wanted early on.

Pregame starts at 6:30 p.m. on FM 100.5 with kickoff at 7 p.m. The homecoming queen will be crowned during halftime.

Tickets will be on sale at the high school during school hours. The gates will open at 6 p.m.

The game will be live video streamed from ihigh.com (access through www.panolian.com) using the voice stream from WBLE and on www.panola.com.